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Environmental Resources - Water Quality

Keeping Your Drinking Water Clean

Keeping your drinking water clean is very important to us. The city of Glendale adheres to the water quality requirements established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The city vigilantly safeguards the quality of drinking water it delivers to you through treatment and analysis.

To ensure the safety and security of our water supply, the city of Glendale monitors water quality in real time 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The city of Glendale has a dedicated staff of trained water industry professionals working around the clock to provide you with water that is superior to state and federal water quality standards.

The city of Glendale continues to make improvements to the water system to ensure that you continue to receive high quality water. Please take a few moments to read this report. We have included responses to questions you may have asked.

2009 Water System Enhancements

Each year, the city of Glendale works hard to provide you, and the community, with safe, reliable drinking water and outstanding customer service. We are continually improving our services and operations. Currently, some of those funded improvement projects include:

  • The city continues to improve its water distribution system, replacing older pipes and constructing new distribution pipelines and connections.
  • Protecting the water supply is critical to ensure the health and safety of our customers. As a result, Glendale continuously updates security measures and safety plans.
  • Construction of a new groundwater treatment plant at the Oasis Water Campus is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2011. The treatment plant is being designed and built to improve the quality of the groundwater we recover from wells.
  • A new Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer was added to the Water Quality Laboratory. This instrument is used to perform regulatory and non-regulatory testing of your drinking water.

Arsenic

What is arsenic, and why can it be of concern?

  • Arsenic is a metal that is found in the earth’s crust. Arsenic is released in the environment through natural processes, e.g., as the breaking down of rocks and through the activities of man, e.g., smelting of ore and the burning of coal.

  • Arsenic in the Phoenix area is mainly naturally occurring in the environment.

  • When arsenic is in the soil it can be transported by surface water (rivers) and be present in groundwater.

  • Drinking water with high levels of arsenic has been associated with several forms of cancer, primarily skin cancer. High levels of arsenic can also cause digestive problems.

  • What protections are in place?
    - Arsenic levels in drinking water cannot exceed 10 parts per billion.
    - Arsenic levels in Glendale’s water supply were less than 10 parts per billion.


Nitrate

What is nitrate and why can it be of concern?

  • Nitrate is a salt of a nitric acid. It is commonly found in soil and biological material.

  • High concentrations of nitrate in soil often result from the use of fertilizer containing nitrate, nitrogen and ammonia. Wastes from livestock operations and septic tanks can also introduce high levels of nitrate in the environment

  • When high levels of nitrate are in the soil it can be present in high levels in water, especially groundwater.

  • Drinking water with high levels of nitrate can cause what is known as blue baby syndrome by reducing the amount of oxygen in blood in infants. Blue baby syndrome is a life-threatening condition for infants under 6 months old. Affected infants to appear blue because of oxygen deficiency.

What protections are in place?

  • According to federal requirements, drinking water cannot exceed 10 parts per million nitrates.

  • Nitrate levels in Glendale’s water supply were less than 10 parts per million.

  • In the event that Glendale delivers drinking water with nitrates above the federal requirements, the city will issue a public health notice within 24 hours of discovering the situation. The notice will be issued to the entire city, even if the effect is confined to a small area within the city.


Public Notification Requirements

What is Public Notification?

  • Public notification is a federal rule that requires drinking water providers, such as the city of Glendale, to make customers aware of instances where the water provider violates the drinking water standards.

  • The type, distribution, and timing of the public notices depend largely upon the nature of the violation. Under the new rule, serious violations need to be communicated within 24 hours of discovery.

  • The Public Notification Rule establishes three tiers of events for which public notice must be provided.

Tier

Type of Event

Federal Requirement

Tier 1

  • Coliform bacteria
  • Nitrate
  • Chlorine dioxide
  • Turbidity
  • Waterborne disease outbreak
  • Other events as determined by County

24 hours after utility becomes aware of monitoring results, and requires consultation with County. The 24-hour requirement may demand use of radio and television.

Tier 2

  • All other Maximum Contaminant Level and treatment technique violations
  • Monitoring violations
  • Failure to comply with variance or exemption

30 days after utility becomes aware of monitoring results. Notification can be made by direct mail and newspaper advertisement or posting.

Tier 3

  • Monitoring and testing procedure violations
  • Operating under a variance or exemption
  • Fluoride Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level violation
  • Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring results

12 months after utility becomes aware of monitoring results. Normally notice would be included in the next annual Consumer Confidence Report.


  • A violation of the Maximum Contaminant Level drinking water standard occurs when an analyzed sample contains concentrations of a contaminant greater than what the standard allows and a follow-up analysis of a confirmation sample verifies the initial finding.
  • The Tier 1 requirement to provide public notices within 24 hours for certain events makes compliance a challenge, and will likely require the use television and radio notice.
  • Notification must be made to all city water customers.
  • The city is required to use specific health effects language/wording in their public notifications. The specific wording describes the potential health effects of the contamination event for which the notice is provided.

What plans are in place?

  • The city prepared a Public Notification: Drinking Water Advisory Plan for Tier 1 Violations. The plan provides the framework and action steps to protect public health. The city periodically updates the plan.


Radon

What is radon and why can it be of concern?

  • Radon is an odorless and colorless radioactive gas that is produced by the decay of highly radioactive material.
  • Radon is naturally occurring and is mainly present in granite rock formations. Nonetheless, radon is present at very low levels throughout Arizona because of the breaking down of rock.
  • Buildings constructed over radon-bearing geologic formations are susceptible to radon gas seeping into the building. At high exposure levels radon is associated with lung cancer.
  • Although radon is primarily an indoor air quality issue, radon can also be present in groundwater.

What protections are in place?

  • There is currently no federal requirement controlling radon in drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of proposing radon limits in water.

The proposed regulation sets the radon standard at 4,000 picouries per liter if Arizona establishes a “multi-media mitigation program”. The multi-media mitigation program would target radon levels in the air (as opposed to water) through changes in the local building codes.


Reclaimed Water

What is reclaimed water?

  • Reclaimed water is wastewater that has been treated and processed to a level of quality appropriate for reuse. The terms reclaimed water and effluent reuse are often used interchangeably.
  • Reclaimed water is an additional source of water that would not otherwise be available. It reduces the pressure on more conventional water supplies.
  • In Arizona, approximately 40 percent percent of all water used at home is used indoors (bathroom and kitchen use). If the home is connected to the city’s sanitation system, nearly all the water used indoors enters the city’s wastewater system and can be reused after appropriate treatment.
  • Glendale owns and operates two wastewater reclamation facilities. At the Arrowhead Water Reclamation Facility, reclaimed water is stored in a system of lakes at Arrowhead Ranch and used to irrigate golf courses and common landscaped areas. The reclaimed water from the West Area Water Reclamation Facility is being used to recharge the aquifer and generate water storage credits that can be used in the future.
  • Glendale reclaimed approximately 12,000 acre-feet (equal to about 24 percent of the city’s drinking water demand) of water in 2005.
  • Both of Glendale’s water reclamation facilities produce reclaimed water that is classified as Class A+ quality (the highest level of quality) by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The treated effluent is filtered and free of viruses.
  • The city also owns wastewater treatment capacity at the regional facility operated by the city of Phoenix. Some of the effluent from this facility is contractually obligated to an irrigation company and a nuclear power facility. The remainder of the effluent is used for the Tres Rios wetlands restoration project located in the vicinity of the confluence of the Salt and Gila Rivers.


Taste and Odor

What causes the musty taste and odor in water?

  • Water occasionally contains dissolved matter that causes a noticeable taste and odor.
  • Taste and odor issues are mainly due to the city’s use of surface water (water from rivers that are stored in lakes and reservoirs). Warm temperatures and sunlight cause algae to grow in lakes, reservoirs and canals. The algae produce chemicals that are not harmful, but cause a musty or earthy taste or smell when they die.
  • People have varying sensitivity and tolerance to the musty taste or smell of water.
  • Glendale and other cities in the Phoenix area usually experience two periods a year when taste and odor issues peak. One occurs in the Spring (lasting about 3 weeks), and a second in the Fall (lasting about 6 weeks).

What protections are in place?

  • Although there is currently no federal requirement controlling the taste and odor of drinking water, Glendale will complete installation of a granular activated carbon filtration system at the Cholla Water Treatment Plant in 2006. The city will also have the carbon filters at its new Oasis Water Campus Facility, which is scheduled for completion by 2008.
  • A granular activated carbon filtration system is very effective in improving the taste and odor of water.


Trihalomethanes (THMs) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA5)

What are trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids and why can it be of concern?

  • Trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids are groups of chemicals that are present in all water systems that use chlorine to disinfect the water.
  • THMs and HAA5s are formed when chlorine reacts with dissolved organic material. THMs and HAA5s levels are usually higher in treated surface water (water from rivers, lakes and reservoirs) compared to groundwater because surface water contain higher concentrations of dissolved organic material than groundwater.
  • High levels of THMs in drinking water may cause cancer, birth defects and miscarriages.
  • High levels of HAA5s in drinking water may cause cancer.

What protections are in place?

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently finalized a more stringent THM and HAA5 standards, whereby THMs cannot exceed either 80 parts per billion and HAA5s cannot exceed 60 parts per billion based on locational running annual averages (LCAA).
  • THM levels in Glendale’s water system were lower than the standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Glendale will complete the installation of a granular activated carbon filtration system at the Cholla Water Treatment Plant in 2006. The city will also have the carbon filters at its new Oasis Water Campus Facility, which is scheduled for completion by 2008.
  • A granular activated carbon filtration system is very effective in reducing THM levels in treated surface water.

 

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